WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps in the world. It’s easy to use user interface has made it popular not just among people from all age groups and backgrounds. And now the word is that the Indian government is planning to build its own communication app – one that is quite similar to WhatsApp – for its internal communications.
The rationale behind this sudden move – or urgency – to build a home grown messaging app for official communications stems from the growing tension between US and China and US’ sanction on Huawei.
Senior government officials told The Economic Times that US tech companies cutting ties with Huawei on sanctions imposed by the Trump government has raised concerns in New Delhi. “There are strong discussions that for strategic and security reasons, over a period of time, we should have email, messagingall sorts of systems, at least for government communication, which doesn’t depend on outside players,” the government official told the publication.
“We should have some form of a sarkari WhatsApp,” the official added.
The government official also said that there have been discussions going on for all official communication to happen over indigenously developed and secure systems and once the app is out, all government staffers and officials could be discouraged from using private messaging platforms such as Gmail and WhatsApp for official communication. The plan so far is that initially the app would be rolled out for communication between governmental employees. Later, it could be extended to the public such that all governmental communication to the public could also happen via this platform.
Notably, India is not the first country to launch an encrypted chat app for governmental communications. Earlier this year, France launched the Tchap app for internal governmental communications as a secure alternative to other consumer apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram. One of the most important features of the app is that all its data is stored within the French borders. However, security researcher Elliot Anderson, who is also known as Baptiste Robert, found a flaw in the app that allowed him to create an account on the service even though the service was supposed to be restricted for the government officials.